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Senate Health-Care Plan Called "Worse" for PA

A report says as many as 125,000 Pennsylvania children would lose Medicaid health coverage under the new Senate GOP plan. (Val Gempis/Wikimedia Commons)
A report says as many as 125,000 Pennsylvania children would lose Medicaid health coverage under the new Senate GOP plan. (Val Gempis/Wikimedia Commons)
June 23, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The health-care bill unveiled by Senate Republicans on Thursday would be even worse for Pennsylvania than the House version, according to a new report.

Research from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Pennsylvania Health Access Network says cuts to Medicaid under the House version of the American Health Care Act would cost the Commonwealth $3.4 billion a year in federal funding.

According to Patrick Keenan, policy director at the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and the report's co-author, a provision of the Senate bill championed by Pennsylvania junior Senator Pat Toomey would cost the state even more.

"Pennsylvania by 2025, under the new Senate language, would lose $29.1 billion, or an average of $4.8 billion per year," he says.

The Senate bill has been dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," or BCRA. Republicans say their plans will give states more flexibility in deciding how to spend Medicaid dollars.

But Keenan notes that with fewer Medicaid dollars to spend, the choices the state would face would boil down to how many people would lose their Medicaid coverage altogether.

"Pennsylvania's Medicaid program would lose roughly 419,000 to 612,000 individuals," he notes. "It really depends on the cuts that the state needs to make."

He adds that 75 percent of those enrolled in Pennsylvania's Medicaid program are children, seniors and people with disabilities.

Pennsylvania already faces an almost $3-billion budget deficit. Keenan says the Senate bill would double that, putting the state in desperate financial straits.

"That's why these cuts would really have to be immediate and would really have to be severe, because of the ways in which Sen. Toomey has pushed for deeper cuts to the Medicaid program," Keenan explains.

No Democrats are expected to vote for the Senate health care bill, and several Republican senators have said they cannot support it as written, making passage uncertain.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA